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GlanmoreNHS Mythbusting: Testing Firefighting Gear


Hello, I’m Dave, I’m the Museum Technician
here at Glanmore National Historic Site And I’m Nicholas, Summer Student here. Welcome, we have something a little different
today. Nicholas and I were working on the Belleville
Firefighting exhibit that will be open in early September, so please stop by the Fire
Hall and check it out. We were working on an interactive with what
is called Bunker Gear. That’s the firefighting gear that firefighters
use in the line of duty. We actually cut off a leg so that it could
be used in the interactive, people can see the different layers and we actually found
as we dug into it, it was more and more interesting than we suspected. So its got three different layers, three main
different layers. The exterior is made of Nomax Kevlar blend
and is designed to protect the wearer from abrasion, cuts, fire. Directly inside that is a moisture layer which
would protect from large quantities of water, gasoline, battery acid, blood, any kind of
fluid that the wearer might encounter. Inside that is a thermal layer, basically
a Kevlar Nomax cotton batting and it would protect from the actual heat of the fire as
well as offer some cushion protection. So we thought as we were cutting these things
apart, and they really were a bit of a challenge for our shop shears that we should test them
out. And we thought if we were testing them out
we should share the fun! So we are going to start with water rather
than battery acid or gasoline. Oh I should say, inside the leg we have the
firefighter pseudo-leg
So we just have a cardboard tube with a piece of packing foam inside and tissue paper wrapped
around the outside of that. The tissue paper as we pour water on here
if it gets any moisture through the tissue paper will show it very quickly. In the actual leg we have blue tissue paper
wrapped around white tissue paper. Most firefighters I’ve met don’t have tissue
paper thin skin but it will illustrate the point. Ok. So. We should do this with battery acid, that
would be cool. Ok, Let’s give it a try. The reflective tape allows you to see where
the firefighter is. You can actually see it beading up on the
Nomax pretty clearly, it looks like it is soaking through there, but that is not actually
the vapour barrier layer. So lets not get it wet as we pull it out. Get it? Yup. There we go. AND DRY! Just for comparison, there is a wet spot. OK, we are just going to tuck that back in
for the other testing. So talking about abrasion resistance and the
sort of thing firefighters might encounter in the line of duty. I just have driven in a couple of nails and
a screw in a board here and this is exactly the sort of thing that a firefighter might
encounter in the line of duty. So in order to kind of test this, I’m just
going to, or Nicholas, if you want to just Sure. The pole will be the flesh, just drag that
across the top (scraping noises) and we will see if we create any scratches or rips or
tears in the Nomax layer. Next! Lets get a little more pressure, OK, the clamps
given and it is still not tearing. OK. I’m actually going to try this (scraping noises)
That is pretty abraision resisitant. Not bad. Now if you think about other things that firefighters
might encounter in the line of duty. They are helping somebody who is stuck in
a car, broken mirror, broken glass, lets give that a try. (scraping noises) OK well, they are pretty
serious about that. Right, in the shop I had a piece of metal
cut at a really bad angle um yeah, lets give this a try. Would you mind holding it down. I’ll stab him! (scraping noises) OK what if you accidentally
kneels on it. OK well that would be bad. But still pretty abrasion resistant. OK Now when I think about abrasion, about
part of it was I was looking at this Nomax suit and it was reminding me of motorcycle
touring and I thought about abrasion and I thought about road rash. So I have some sandpaper here and I’m just
going to give that a go. (sanding noises) OK, that is not bad but lets
do this better. Lets do 60 grit sandpaper on the sander. Thank you very much, that is more like road
rash. Certainly not something that a firefighter
would encounter on a daily basis but maybe he is riding a motorcycle along the way to
work! Lets see what we can do. This will fly but this is more extreme than
firefighters would encounter unless they are accidently dragged by the firetruck. (sanding noises) So maybe for 5 seconds So
it has taken, and created some fluff and created a small hole and that actually, sorry, is
just the inner layer, that is not even all the way through. Lets see if we can hit bone. Just for giggles. (sanding noises)
No that is still not all the way through. Yup that is still not all the way through. Ok So I’d say that qualifies as abrasion resistant. My hand is inside the pant leg, it is inside
the quilted layer, that is definitely not through. Wow. I need some of these for my motorcycle, clearly. Ok so lets
It is slightly damaged from crushing but no that is tears it is just where I have pushed
on the foam i’m sure. Is it warm the foam? No. Ok. so the last test we wanted to do of course
because these are bunker gear for a firefighter and they are supposed to be fire resistant
we thought we would test them against a flame. Now these are actually supposed to keep the
firefighter safe in a flame For up to 20 seconds of direct full on everything
combusts conditions. This doesn’t sound like much…worst case
scenario. So just to be clear we are in a parking lot,
there is nothing flamable around us. We have a fire extinguisher and we have a
full bucket of water. Today our flame will be played by a blow torch. Now this is going to make a sound but because
of the direct sunlight you probably won’t see the flame. But I’m just going to safely OK so that is
definitely burning. we definitely have a fire. So we will just hold this against the firefighter’s
leg and if the tissue starts to smoulder or the foam starts to melt we will know it very
very quickly. Lets go with here, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
9, 10. So clearly that is not a very happy firefighter
but You can see that even thought it caught fire
at second 8 or 9 it very very quickly went out as soon as the firefighter was out of
the conditions. And there is no discolouration to speak of
at all, no burning on the foam, it was warm on the inside but not unpleasant. So I think this is surprisingly cool. Something about working in museums, getting
interested about things, finding out more information and it gets me excited and I wanted
to share that with you. If you want to find out more about this you
can stop by the Belleville Fire Department and check out the new exhibit put on by the
staff at Glanmore National Historic Site in liason and cooperation with the Belleville
Fire Department, September 201, or later.

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